Treated myself to an acoustic. Moving from electric it feels like I am starting over. Any advice?

I restarted my guitar journey at the beginning of 2020 with an electric guitar. Within a few months I was hooked and knew that I had a new hobby that would be with me for the rest of my days. I also realized that I would eventually want an acoustic guitar to round out my collection and my learning.

Well, after saving for a couple of years I finally got my acoustic this past weekend. I do love how it sounds when i fingerpick, but when it comes to strumming with a pick I feel like I’m back at square one - inconsistent timing, pick getting caught in strings, etc - all problems that I thought I solved a long time ago on my electric. I’m especially having a tough time with up strums.

Has anyone else had similar issues when going from electric to acoustic? Any tips to get on track?

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An electric usually takes a lighter touch overall and has lighter strings, also typically lower action.

Not sure why you would be getting the pick caught are you positioned right for strumming etc?

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There are a few things that I notice that are different.

  1. There is more space between each string on the acoustic

  2. The saddle radius is less on the acoustic (almost flat)

  3. The strings sit higher off of the guitar body

I think that each of these things is affecting the angle that the pick hits the string and is causing me all sorts of problems. I feel like I’m making some really inefficient movements to try to compensate.

I know that the answer is more practice, but I want to make sure I’m practicing the right thing.

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What acoustic did you get? You can get acoustic guitars with neck radius and nut width the same or close to an electric. Most of my acoustics have 12 inch radius necks and either 1.72 or 1.65 nut width.
The strings are higher of the body but the action is a low as an average electric.

My electric is a Fender Strat with a 9.5” radius. Acoustic is a Martin with 16” radius.

(I think I got that backwards in my previous post, the radius on my acoustic is bigger (more flat). Sorry if I caused any confusion)

I think that the bigger radius is a benefit for flat picking and finger picking, but I’m really struggling with up strums.

I’m sure that I will get it sorted eventually but I am hoping to avoid developing any bad habits as I adapt to this new guitar.

With the wider string spacing, especially where you strum, you may not be hitting all the strings you want to in the up strum.

I definitely need to center myself and readjust to the pressure required and the location of the strings when I go back and forth between types of guitar.

Maybe after some more years it will be second nature.

My thought is just to spend some time very slowly feeling how your up-strum hits which strings on the acoustic.

For example, if your up-strum on the electric hits strings 1-3, then on the acoustic you probably are missing string 3 when your automatic electric up-strum habit kicks in.

@Rider2040 Rob you’ll get used to it the more you play it. But going from a 9.5 to 16 radius will take a little time. As for strumming are you using a different pick on the accustic? Start with a thinner one at first. Because you’ve played electric it won’t take very long to be up to thicker picks again.

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Is your pick flexible enough? Going to 12’s on an acoustic with a stiff pick can be a challenge.

@Jamolay Thanks Joshua. It’s great to hear that others have had similar experiences. I’m definitely hitting strings 1 and 2 harder than I want to and they tend to drown out the other strings on my up-strum. I really need to slow that down and be much more conscious of the sweep of my pick to hit the desired strings with more consistent force.

@stitch Thanks Rick. I appreciate the encouragement. I guess I didn’t realize what a big difference there was in radius. Maybe that’s why it felt so good fingerpicking when I tested it at the store? I’ll definitely try out a thinner pick.

@LievenDV Thanks Lieven. My Strat has 9’s and my Martin has 12’s. I knew that this might affect fretting of chords and bending notes, but I didn’t really consider that this might have an effect on strumming too. Thanks for calling this out. One thing that I will note is that despite having to use a bit more strength to fret the heavier strings, I actually find them to be more comfortable because they don’t dig into my fingers as much as the narrower strings.

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